It took a little extra time to find the location. And it took a little extra time to finish the construction. But all that extra time has paid off in the eyes of Mario LaPosta as he takes the reins as executive chef of Mario Batali’s Babbo Pizzeria e Enoteca at Fan Pier.
“This is such an awesome location that I would do it all over again,” LaPosta raves. “It’s right on the water.”
The original Fort Point location fell through nearly two years ago, and delays from the winter’s historic snow added to the wait. But that just meant Batali and partners Joe and Lidia Bastianich had a little longer to find the perfect ingredients for their first Boston restaurant after decades of operating in New York, L.A., Las Vegas and many other cities. (They’re reportedly already planning their second Boston restaurant, an Eataly in the Prudential.)
Babbo’s design is by turns rustic and industrial, with porcelain floors, oak tables and chairs, exposed pipes and lights hanging from a black ceiling in a space that seats 160 (which will jump to 180 when the outdoor patio opens). The main marble-topped bar runs nearly the length of the interior with stools to seat dozens of patrons, who’ll find USB chargers hidden below the bar. There’s also a bar by the pizza oven and another at the antipasto kitchen, allowing diners to keep an eye on LaPosta and his crew.
“I think we want that casual but elegant atmosphere, and the menu really fits with that,” LaPosta says. “There’s so many parts to it.”
The menu includes varied Italian offerings, but LaPosta says finding the highlight is as simple as glancing at part of the restaurant’s name: Pizzeria. The Neapolitan-style pies will be cooked in the 1,000-degree oven at the heart of the pizza bar, with classics like the Margherita cooking alongside favorites such as the goat cheese pizza topped with truffle honey and pistachios, which LaPosta says is perfect as an appetizer, an entree or dessert. But pizza-phobes will find plenty of options in a menu that’s broken down into 10 sections, from a fritti selection of Italian street foods such as mozzarella in carozza to an extensive lineup of pastas such as taccozzette with sausage and broccoli rabe. For dessert, there’s gelato that general manager Caroline Conrad calls one of a kind.
“Our decor is just wine,” Conrad says. “What we feature on the walls is not art, but wine labels. That’s what we do.”And the theme spreads to an all-Italian wine list that’s starting with 150 bottles but will soon be up to 700 with picks from all 20 regions of the country. Aside from providing diners with sustenance, there’s a second benefit to all that wine.
Babbo Pizzeria e Enoteca 11 Fan Pier Blvd., Boston (617-421-4466) babbopizzeria.com